Freelancing Links You Can Shake a Stick At

Posted: August 27th, 2010

Top Ten Reasons a Freelancer Would Rather Be Back In Grade School

Posted: August 25th, 2010

It’s that time of year again, as if those million ads you see all over the place haven’t reminded you already. Yes, back to school for the kiddies but freelancers often reminisce of those days of old. In fact, here are the top reasons we wouldn’t mind stopping by class with Mrs. Daily again.

10. Bullying kids is a little more profitable these days.

9. Could really impress other students with your Twitter follower count.

8. Might as well check back on that old teacher crush you had. You know, just to be sure.

7. Have to see in person why those damn kids are so smart nowadays.

6. Can recruit classmates to fill in on projects in exchange for candy.

5. Have to warn all the kids about the perils of getting a real job when they grow up.

4. You have excellent trade value with your stash of gourmet coffee and and Red Bull.

3. Trying to end caffeine addiction with phonics.

2. Need some new people to swoon about my iPhone to.

1. Have to warn the kids what a real nerd looks like when all grown up.

The Week In Freelance: August 13th

Posted: August 13th, 2010

10 Random Thoughts On Why My Freelancing Career Is As Weird As Yours

Posted: August 11th, 2010

Photo by Bigandyherd (Flickr)

Photo by Bigandyherd (Flickr)

I’ve been freelancing for just over 8 years now. While I never dreamed or planned on being a freelancer, there is certainly no way I’ll ever go back to traditional employment. Looking back on those eight years, though, makes me think what a long strange trip it’s been through ten random thoughts:

  • I graduated with a degree in Psychology, but started freelancing doing web programming with no experience. I even write what you see here after many past failures in writing. Uhm, what just happened?
  • My most valued possesions are now whittled down to just a computer, Wifi, PayPal account, passport, and discipline. Sunlight, too, but I don’t really own that.
  • Of all my clients, who are located in Spain, USA, Canada, Australia and Sweden, I haven’t met 93% of them face-to-face.
  • Of those remaining 7% of clients, all except one live in the same city. I actually travelled 5266 miles once to see that last one. Not even the one in Australia either.
  • Out of those who I haven’t met personally, I can recognize 22% through their voice, YouTube video, photo in Facebook or a Gravatar. Who knew a “gravatar” would become a univeral means of recognition?
  • Probably my worst occupational hazard has been a severe addiction to caffeine and Swedish tobacco pouches (a.k.a. “snus”).
  • Definitely my worst occupational hazard… current withdrawals from drastically cutting back on each.
  • All of these will happen at least once in your career: You get stiffed on a payment, your equipment gets lost/stolen/damaged/eaten, you’ll survive a week on a $10 food budget (borrowed from a friend).
  • Then again, the following will also happen at least once too: You’ll find a cash cow of a client (through pure luck), you’ll truly enjoy that first vacation you take and you’ll also truly savor those meals when you begin to eat out again.
  • Then there is the discovery of one of Murphy’s Law of Freelancing: If there ever is a point when you are so desperate for work, that you consider the sex trade, it will be immediately followed by a period of so much work that you won’t be able to stop complaining about it.

Top Ten Freelancing Rules To Break, Just So Things Don’t Get Boring

Posted: July 26th, 2010

Some wise man once said that all rules were made to be broken (I know, cliche). It’s true though. Who ever got by as a freelancer by happily obeying the rules of the working world? Yet despite this career choice, there still always seems to be more rules to have to follow. Well, I give you permission to break these ten so you can get on with your career already.

10. Set and meet deadlines. If it doesn’t involve kidnappings, legislation or nuclear standoffs, then it really isn’t important in the grand scheme of things, is it?

9. Be attentive to your clients. Your clients are mature adults fully capable of handling themselves. So be repectful and treat them as so.

8. Quality is everything. Yeah, they say that at McDonalds but you still eat there right?

7. Always collect a 50% deposit at the beginning of any project. I’d think a 100% deposit would be better. You know you’ll be high-fiving me later.

6. Learn to just say no. Didn’t work during your teenage years. No sense in trying now.

5. Eliminate your work distractions. Spending hours on end on Twitter and checking up on Lindsey Lohan makes for a pretty dull life. See how distracting yourself with work turns out.

4. Take a vacation once in a while. Now would be a good time to go all crazy with Twitter and the Lindsey Lohan updates instead of doing something lame, like travel.

3. Keep up with your health. Live young forever. Spend day after day high on Red Bull and coffee and burning out your retinas. Kids are totally jealous of this.

2. Save money whenever possible. Well, have to keep up with the stash of Red Bull and coffee, right?

1. Always use a contract. Go with the pinky swear instead.

The Week In Freelance: July 23rd

Posted: July 23rd, 2010

The Week in Freelance: July 16th

Posted: July 16th, 2010

Freelancer Rage, Another Extension of Your Driving

Posted: July 14th, 2010

Photo by I Like (Flickr)

Photo by I Like (Flickr)

I’m not ashamed to admit that some of my biggest mistakes (and biggest lessons) as a freelancer came as a result of letting my emotions get too far out of control and take over my decision making.

Such as the time long ago when I sent Mr. Henderson an email to the effect of, “YOU HAVEN’T PAID YET. PLEASE PAY NOW!” just three days removed from handing him a $50 invoice.

Then there was the other time when I dropped some f-bombs on beloved colleagues who have been providing me plenty of work the last three years. All without receiving a raised voice in return. Looking back, they did give me money to shut the f#!@ up… ah, nevermind.

The thing is I don’t know of one freelancer who never gets angry, no matter how trivial the reason is. Part of it, if not all, is due to the stress in our lives and our work. Some days nothing seems to go right and those who happen to touch a nerve, even the slightest bit, suddenly become victims of an “earful”.

Since, in most cases when a punching bag isn’t readily available, we get a nice relief of stress by unleashing that fury upon the client. As soon as we cool off, we’re left with a few nagging thoughts over what just happened.

  • We could lose this dear client of ours (assuming you like the person)
  • You now have a rep as a hothead and not fun at all to work with
  • Face it, you’re probably an asshole too

It was immediately after the aforementioned colleague-bashing when I came upon my own realization that this can never happen again. Not even to clients I’ve made voodoo effigies of and poked nails in.

Fast forward two years later, I’ve outgrown my hothead-asshole persona and another weird thing happened as well.

Business improved. This while following only a few simple rules.

1. Stop

There will be a point after reading that email your blood gets boiling. Stop whatever you’re doing (yes even if it’s the middle of your work). Do not reply. Step away from the computer. It would be wise not to punch it either.

2. Vent (in private)

Here is where you can get crazy with the voodoo dolls or go out and buy a punching bag. You can also try my personal favorite, pacing back and forth in your office pretending to give an angry speech to your client. Just keep this out of public view, OK?

Then there are the more practical venting techniques such as a five-mile run or hitting the gym. Or just get an ice cream cone. Ice cream always brings a smile when you pretend the scoop of ice cream is the client’s face melting.

3. Ignore

This is the hard part, but just let it go for the rest of the day. Get back to other work and just concentrate on that. I know thoughts of murder will seem to permeate your head but, if you relax, it will let go.

Another ice cream cone may help if not.

4. Answer (the next day)

Great, you just had a refreshing night of sleep and are in a proper mood to answer the client diplomatically. No threats or more ice cream needed. Plus you can tone down that memorized angry speech into polite arguments for that pending email.

* * *

Have you ever responded to a client in anger and regretted it later? Please share in a nice comment.

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